I started to write Letters of Gratitude to the invitation of Rob Martin and Jack Pollock, who founded the Letters of Gratitude website, http://www.thelettersofgratitude.com/, and wrote the book http://www.amazon.com/The-Letters-Gratitude-Rob-Martin/dp/1478101172/ref=tmm_pap_title_0. They suggested a full list of words on which to reflect and write, and discover for ourselves what the word meant to us, and how each of us could develop gratitude for the manifestation of this word in our lives. This is a simplification of the beautiful work Rob and Jack did.

I have committed to write a Letter of Gratitude for each word included in Rob and Jack’s list. That was about a year ago. I completely messed up the process for myself by extending the practice for over a year instead of the suggested 30 days. I still enjoyed the depth to which the “digging deeper” brought me. Then, I got stuck with the word Secrets.

Secrets and Authenticity are the two ends of a spectrum. Developing gratitude for how the concept of Secrets in my life has materialized seems an impossible task. I simply do not have secrets. Authenticity has been the strongest blessing and the most damaging curse of my life.

I suspect, without any proof and many hints, that my mother has kept key facts of her life and experience under wraps. I suffered for it (think “unexpressed traumatic frustration”). The impacts on my life have been notwithstanding very real. These hidden facts, if they exist, are her secrets, not mine. Throughout my life, I have been a seeker of authenticity, in others and in myself. I have refused to play the games people play in society and in friendships, because it goes directly against my grain.

Like Buddhists say, we should be grateful for all that life made us up to this day. In that sense, I am grateful for people in my life from which I sensed they had secrets, or did not act authentically.

LB2013w2 001-2Acrylics, archival ink, Sakura Glaze pens, Sakura Micron pens, word stamps, Bic Mark It permanent markers.

Graphite pencil, Sharpie aqua marker, acrylics, Martha Stewart markers, black gel pen, Inktense watercolor pencils, gesso, gouache, collage, sakura micron pen.

From the Lifebook 2013 Project.

From the Lifebook 2013 Project.

IMG_1892HQ

The United Kingdome

The Sandwich: invented by John Montague, Earl of Sandwich

Art fairyAuthentically, I share this practice crust. My fairy art godmother for 2013.

In 2012, I listenedĀ  to a webcast led by Susan Piver (http://susanpiver.com/), from the Open Heart Project (http://susanpiver.com/open-heart-project/). I have a couple of people in my life I prefer to stay away from (forgiving is on the menu here). As I am on a path of opening my heart and sharing more loving-kindness, it seems to me I live in a real contradiction, a perfect dichotomy of sort. I listened to Susan’s webcast, and wanted to share a few ideas that helped me develop perspective, kindness for myself, acceptance of my weaknesses and limitations, and being open to gradually open my heart to people for whom I do not share anything in common but who are still part of my life.

My question to Susan was:

I am certain many people live confusing situations like mine and I would like to have the dharma (buddhist teachings) approach on this. My feelings towards specific people do not seem aligned with dharma teaching. Or are they?

I learned:

 

  • About the call of the warrior: to always evolve for a better world. Then, we do what we need to do. It is very personal.
  • The loving-kindness practice helps dealing with reality. For myself, and for other people.
  • The choices we make are about being authentic, aiming to pure authenticity.
  • Feeling the feelings open the heart and mind to more wisdom (dealing with guilt for example.)

 

I concluded:

 

  • Whether we forgive or not is not necessarily the point. Even if we forgive, that does not mean we want to share pizza & beer (or heal the relationship).
  • Society conditions us in certain ways (there is nothing more important than family, etc.) but using discernment in the choices we make is an acquired muscle.
  • The social expectation to demonstrate kindness towards family members has appeal to many disciplines and for us to think of ourselves as “a good person”: spirituality, psychology, emotions, social development, etc. In the end, for the simple sake or common sense of living with peace and dignity, someone with an ounce of basic emotional survival instinct (later on learning to pursue real joy), might decide to sever all ties with some family members or friends. We do not even need to be overly influenced by the social dictates. It does not need to be more complicated than this in many instances.
  • Loving-kindness toward oneself and our limitations (in the context of incapacity to forgive) is a starting point.
  • Sometimes, understanding the flaws, weaknesses or hurts of people who have hurt you is a milestone towards forgiving, sometimes not.
  • We human beings are intelligent and have heart, but let’s not forget we are animals too. The Fight or Flight response, instinct, and fundamental NO in the belly towards people we cannot see in paintings are also part of our intuitive life navigating tools to evolve as a human being.
  • Being a warrior also means learning to choose our own course of action. And there is not (most often than not) a prescribed or better way we “should” choose. The basic intention behind any action colors the level of purity (in the sense of a better world) of a choice.

 

We know:

 

  • We do not have more value as a human being than people we do not like. we have qualities and flaws that are different from them.
  • Most of usĀ  commit to sincerely evolve on the path of loving-kindness, and to regularly questioning our intentions, choices. We should always come back rapidly to a point of peace, and work for the long-term so the internal “struggle” eventually becomes a thing of the past.
  • That being kind to oneself is not an open ticket to the path of least resistance or complacency.

 

 

Thank you for reading and openness. It is a work in progress.

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